Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Day 1: Purls, Peaks, and Pudding

Mention that you’re traveling to Salt Lake City, and you are likely to get one of two topics mentioned in response:  Mormons and skiing.  Both are correct, but hardly the whole picture.  As your intrepid host DestiKNITter, this non-skiing Presbyterian spent a handful of days in the city for the first time recently.  I certainly enjoyed myself, and expect you’ll do the same.  This post and the next two will cover my travels between five of the city’s yarn shops—and lots of other delightful eating and shopping establishments—to guide you should you find yourself in Utah’s high elevation capital.

Any DestiKNITions adventure starts with an excellent cup of coffee.  Find yours at:

Beans & Brews
8619 Sandy Pkwy
Sandy, UT 84070
Bigger than in independent, smaller than a national chain, this multi-location coffeehouse gives off an indie vibe while still providing you with a wide range of places to get your caffeine on.  It’s clearly a local favorite with friendly service, wifi, comfy chairs as well as nice booths, and high-quality drinks.  Chai lattes can be an inconsistent breed, but I found mine to be just perfect. There are dozens of locations throughout Utah and a few surrounding states.

Once your brain is awake and ready for stitching, it’s time to head to today’s fiber fix:

Unraveled Sheep
9316 S 700 E
Sandy, UT 84070

 You know you’re in a community-rich shop when the circle of knitters in the back is having a spirited discussion as you walk in.  The kind of place where sending you somewhere for lunch comes close to an argument because everyone’s got a strong opinion.  A shop where you could sit down and feel at home even before you finished a single row.  

That's Verla on the left
That’s the atmosphere at Unraveled Sheep.  The storefront windows frame a stunning view of local mountains while the ceilings literally drip with enticing project samples.  Owner Verla Younker has become a tireless advocate for local designers and vendors since she “hit her head against the glass ceiling” 13 years ago and bought the business.  Friendly, big-hearted, supportive, and direct, Verla not only runs the shop but a pair of sought-after “Hideaway Retreats” we were told are “not to be missed.”

The knit- and crochet-friendly shop has an extensive collection of local fibers, weaving supplies like Greensleeves drop spindles, and patterns from local designers.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a shop boasting more baby blankets.  “I stock with lots of basics, but a deep selection of those basics.  We’ll have enough of what you need for just about anything.”

Be advised that this shop, like many Salt Lake City establishments, is closed on Sundays.

Need some inspiration?  Check out these projects:

Manzanilla Cowl
Designer Katy Carroll (“Katinka” on Ravelry) takes 200 yds of Cascade's soft Venezia worsted and transforms it into a delicate, cable-ish confection.  The edges are especially pretty—something I value in a cowl.  Verla says it’s particularly lovely in a tonal hand-dyed yarn.  Just the right balance of snuggly and feminine, wouldn’t you agree?

Bronze Maple Shawl
Crocheters will drool over this stunner from Ryan Hollist, aka Joe d'Arc Crochet. Stitched up with 600 yards of Marianated Yarns’ Scrumptious high twist merino cashmere, this draped delight is one I don’t think I could bring myself to give to someone else.  Were I ever to attempt crochet, this would be the project.

Turn Turn Turn Shawl
At last, a bottom-up shawl I can love!  The pattern by designer Mary Triplett (JustKnits on Ravelry), works from the bottom up in short rows, then turns to add the lacy trim.  Verla suggests local fiber Sublime merino cashmere-nylon blend from Greenwood Fiberworks.  You’ll need one skein each of a tonal and complementing solid.

Knit Along: Fili Top-down Convertible Mitts
These mitt/mitten combos sport a uniquely clever construction I can’t wait to try as our Knit Along from Unraveled Sheep.  Designer Sheila Toy Stromberg works them from the middle down and then back up again.  I’ll be using Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool—a fiber I came to love when I used it in the Celtic Princes Braided Scarf—but Verla also suggests Cascade's Roslyn. Eye-catching cables give these smart-phone friendly hand-warmers an extra dab of style.

Ready for lunch? The opinionated crowd at Unraveled Sheep gave us two fine options:

Olympus Burger
9326 S 700 E
Sandy, UT 84070

Don’t let the fast-food exterior fool you—this was a highly touted and super-close lunch spot for the Unraveled Sheep crowd.  The namesake burgers and Greek classics are on the menu, but our sources praised the lemon rice soup. Everything is made to order, so be prepared for a bit of a wait if you opt for the drive-through, but it’s worth it.

Tin Roof Grill
9284 S 700th E
Sandy, UT 84070

Only slightly farther away than Olympus Burger, this eatery offers Italian, tapas small plates, and  a wide variety of other meals.  They’re also famous for their cheesecakes, so there’s lots to love.  I was there in January, but in warmer weather the patio is a great choice as well.  Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this is a family friendly spot and also a good choice for Sunday Brunch.

After lunch, it’s time to take in a bit of the mountains.  Even if you don’t ski, a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road should not be missed.  I tried in vain to capture the grandeur of the scenery in photos, but it simply can’t be done.  The whole majestic mountain thing will make sense as you ascend.  If there are two of you, switch drivers at the top so each of you can have a chance to press your face against the window and be awed.  I ended up in plaster last time I donned skis, and it still was almost enough to tempt me back.  Almost.

Now it’s time to spend the afternoon at a charming shopping village complete with its own fiber fix—Gardner Village in West Jordan.  Priorities being what they are, the yarn shop is our first stop:

Willow Hill Yarn Company
1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088

Emily on the right
Nothing cheers the spirit like a brand-spanking new yarn shop!  Young new owner Emily Dern took over the establishment (known as Kamille’s for many years) on January 3.  

“I want to create the kind of shop where you can sit and knit and talk to people” says Emily—exactly what a DestiKNITter wants to hear.  There will be a full-blown open house in March, but the store is definitely up and running now.  She wants "all knitters and crocheters to feel welcome--whether your yarn stash is huge or just starting out."  

Offering free beginner classes, Emily is out to lure new enthusiasts to the craft with fun events like movie nights in the homey upstairs gathering space. You can’t help but feel cozy in the historic log cabin packed with yummy yarn.  Alpaca is quite popular, but she has a healthy selection of many fibers for a small-sized shop.

Some projects that caught my eye:

Crazy Cowl
Double knitting makes this one seriously warm accessory.  While any self-striping yarn will work, Emily recommends Shepherd’s Wool Crazy—hence the name.  A perfect gift to show the teen or millennial in your life that knitting is most definitely cool—or, in this case, warm.

The Man Hat
That's the Man Hat on the left
I could not get over how soft and “non-acrylic” feeling this hat was when stitched up in Berroco Comfort Chunky.  I’d never guess this to be a synthetic.  One-by-one ribbing ensures a snug fit and good shaping, and it only takes one skein.  Plymouth’s Chunky Alpaca works well for this one, too.

Lisa Knits Stockings
What’s a log cabin without hand-knit stockings by the fire (or in this case, in the window)? One skein of Berroco Comfort Chunky knits up for a holiday heirloom with this Ravelry pattern by Lisa Knits.  Worsted weight or chunky yarn will yield different sizes and textures, but you can’t  go wrong with these cheery designs.

Knit A Long:  Little Cotton Rabbit Doll and Dress
Way up there on the “aww” scale, this adorable stuffed bunny gets her own hand-knit jumper and matching striped tights with Julie Williams’s pattern.  Willow Hill will offer a Little Cotton Rabbits club, with classes and monthly selection of outfits!  Constructed from HiKoo's SimpliCria Super Baby Alpaca and Simplicity cotton (both from Skacel-HiKoo), this is a irresistible project for advanced-beginner to intermediate knitters.

Now that you’ve scored your requisite yarn, spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the many shops of Gardner Village.  Here were a few of my favorites:

Aunt Elsie’s Trinkets & Treasures
1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088
The sachet scents that surround you upon entering evoke a more refined place and time as you wander this shop filled with antiques, consignments, specialty linens, and other vintage finds.

Celebrations by Modern Display
1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088
Sure, Christmas and Halloween take center stage at this shop, but there were other collectibles and gift items to be had.  My favorites were the enormous holiday villages as well as the Mark Roberts Santa Fairies.

Chocolate Covered Wagon
1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088
Gourmet hot chocolate is a big deal in this city, and this is the place to get some of the best.  It was the salt water taffy and the to-die-for sea salt caramel fudge, however, that I’ll remember.  Our friendly clerk was kind enough to turn on the taffy pulling machine and give us a demo!

Upon the Shelf
1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088
A wide, surprising variety of gifts, home decor, and handmade creations, this packed little store held all kinds of things I wished my suitcase was big enough to hold.

There’s also The Bead Farm, Layers Beautiful Bedding for luxurious linens and stunning quilts, the Naborhood Bakery Cafe with with killer tarts and an inventive kids “Cookie College” program, and dozens of other shops.  

When you’re shopped out and ready for dinner, look for the water wheel and head to: 

1100 W 7800th S
West Jordan, UT 84088
I had very good chicken pot pie, but it was what I had before and after that marks this as a great eatery.  The fried green tomatoes appetizer is a house speciality, as is the scrumptious white chocolate bread pudding.  Both are big enough that you’ll definitely need to share (but be warned…you may not want to.)

A delicious end to your first day in Salt Lake City.  Kick back, knit a few rows, and rest up, because tomorrow holds even more adventures.

No comments: